Why was the temple veil rent in twain when Jesus was crucified? I’ve heard evangelicals interpret it to mean that there is no longer a separation between God and man (and thus no need for temples anymore). But obviously we don’t believe that. So why did it really rip in twain?
In Jesus the Christ, Elder James E. Talmage writes of this event:
But, most portentous of all in Judaistic minds, the veil of the temple which hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was rent from top to bottom, and the interior, which none but the high priest had been permitted to see, was thrown open to common gaze. It was the rending of Judaism, the consummation of the Mosaic dispensation, and the inauguration of Christianity under apostolic administration.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (most probably Paul) spends a great deal of time explaining, in Chapter 9, how the Jewish High Priest traditionally passed through the veil into the Holy of Holies annually to make atonement on behalf of the people; and then contrasted this tradition with how “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others . . .
but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. . . .
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:24-28
Thus, at least one meaning of the rending of the temple veil seems to be that Christ, the great High Priest, had entered into God’s presence to make a great and last intercession on behalf of those who would follow Him.